Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport is 15 miles (apx 25 km) from the centre of Montevideo, a 30-40 minute cab ride into town, depending on where you are staying. Traffic is very rarely a problem, but calculate a few minutes more around rush-hour or at the start of a long weekend.
You have a number of options for getting into Montevideo city centre from the airport and vice versa.
Private car transfer (remise)
The most convenient way into the city is to have a private car waiting for you. Especially if you want to take advantage of every minute of your stay. These private transfer services are very common in Latin America. These chauffeur-driven cars are known as remises (reh-MEES) to differentiate them from taxis. Remises are large sedans – spacious and air-conditioned. They generally only do longer journeys.
ByB Remises is possibly Uruguay’s most reputable remise company. They provide a fantastic service for non-Spanish speakers. All their drivers speak English other than a couple who speak German and Portuguese as well as Spanish. You can book your ride online and the follow-up which includes email or sms reminders is first class. They also do trips from the airport to other parts of Uruguay including Punta del Este.
A trip from the airport to the centre of Montevideo costs around 34 USD (apx 1000 pesos).
If you are going somewhere close to the airport you could call a regular cab using the number 1771 (Punta Gorda cabs). I don’t advise it for longer trips as the prices will be similar to a remise and it will be much less comfortable (taxis in Uruguay are infamously cramped and often poorly maintained).
The airport minivan shuttle service is reasonably cheap – 400 pesos per person – and an economical option for a solo traveller. The service can be time-consuming if other passengers are dropped off before you. Shuttles go once they have five passengers.
The cheapest way to get to the city is by bus. However only use the bus if you have very little luggage, as buses can get crowded and cannot be guaranteed to have storage areas.
Catch any bus that says ‘Montevideo’. The bus stop is right outside the terminal building. The ride will take about one hour depending on the time of day and the number of passengers and quantity of traffic. Buses run very frequently, even on weekends. The bus costs 51 pesos (December 2015). Pay with not more than a 100 peso note ideally (yes, they make change – it’s your first sign that Uruguay is SO civilised).
Most buses come into Montevideo along Avenida Italia and then take a street called Uruguay to the Rio Branco bus station which is a few blocks from Montevideo’s main plaza, the Plaza Independencia. Others stop in the Plaza Independencia itself. All very handy if you are staying in the Old City or Centro.
The DM1 bus from the airport goes to the Punta Carretas neighbourhood. It stops at the Portones and Montevideo shopping malls (two local landmarks) on the way.
Montevideo’s central bus station is called Tres Cruces. It is where buses to other parts of the country go from. Ask the driver to let you know when you are at Tres Cruces if you intend to get off there – most buses from the airport stop just outside the bus station, they don’t enter.
Tipping in Uruguay Find out that you don’t tip a taxi driver but do tip a baggage handler in Uruguay
Transparency check: ByB Remises is a supporter of the Guru’Guay website however my recommendation comes from my numerous experiences as a paying customer of their services. I love their oh-so-user-friendly website in English (SO different from other Uruguayan companies) and their immediate and professional customer service.